Southbound – Willie had it right (almost)

Can’t you just hear his gravely voice….

“On the road again –
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is (sailing) with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been.

Sunday, 10/27 – Carl had arrived Friday evening to crew for a time, and we said good bye to Deltaville Marina  yesterday AM having completed all the repairs.  The forecast looked promising for the run down to Hampton Roads, with sunshine and moderate NW winds. Glad to be moving south as the first real signs of cold weather arrived – 42F this morning.

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Seems once again the weather man was mistaken – the first 20nm were on flat water with light SW breeze. The second 20nm was into 16-24kts directly on the nose, and 2-4ft waves. Add an adverse tide, and not a recipe for a pleasant sail! The conditions added an hour and a half to the trip but we arrived off shore at Hampton River still in good time.

Hampton entrance

An inbound cargo ship was timed to share the narrower entrance with us, so prudence (we listen to her, usually) suggested we delay a bit and fall in behind. Sorry, no pix, it was a busy time ….

While conditions were still very choppy, and there was no letup in the wind, we made it into Hampton Roads harbor and picked up a slip at the Hampton Public Pier – nice folks, and familiar as I’d stayed there a couple times before. We’ll be here for a day or two to visit with family. Had dinner with Abby and Jim, then a movie – “Captain Phillips” – hopefully NOT preparation for this cruise. (Don’t you wonder why they don’t arm those commercial vessels to ward off pirates?)

Also, found ‘Strider’ – my friend Roger’s boat – berthed here, and expect to see him on Monday. A local FB friend and sailor may also stop by today.  One of the best parts of cruising is finding like-minded, fellow cruisers along the way. It is a close and friendly community.

Plan to relocate to Hospital Point, the ‘zero’ mile post, Monday afternoon in preparation for heading down the ICW………… Spot tracker will be on….. more later.

Southbound – Day 6

While still waiting for word on repairs, the upside was a visit today from daughter Abby (and furry friend Tessa) who lives nearby in Yorktown. And, I got a ride to the grocery and hardware store!

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The day began with dark clouds and a forecast of possible showers and lower temps, but still pretty mild. By lunchtime the sun was out and warmer.

I enjoyed an informal guitar concert last evening by one of the skippers, and sing-along with a few folks from other boats. The marina provides a screened room with several grills, tables and chairs for use by any of the registered boaters making for a pleasant gathering spot – and a good ‘concert hall’.

Boat chores continue, and I’m using the time to continue to do passage planning. Word just came that promises progress on the alternator repairs, and I picked up a new regulator.  MAYBE an earlier departure………?

Southbound – learning to be still

Patience – they say is, “Seldom found in women, never found in man.” This forced stop is certainly a test.

Deltaville Marina has so far lived up to its fine reputation as a sailor-friendly place – complete and clean facilities. With an uncertain time line for the alternator repair, I’m settled in a slip with several nice neighbors. Backing in was made much simpler when those neighbors showed up on the dock to help with lines. The weather has been clear and mostly sunny. However, the forecast is suggesting lower temps are just around the corner, and the urge to get south is increasing as patience with waiting begins to fade.

Now in day 4 – the tech came this morning to remove the alternator/regulator to send out for repairs. The hope is that it will be back and installed by Friday.

Meanwhile, I’m working my way through the library in the sailors lounge – three good mysteries in that many days, with more days to go. Also taking the time to do an assortment of small boat chores.

Just when I begin to feel pressure to move and patience evaporates, I wake up to this ……..

Sunrise-deltaville

and smile and slow down 🙂

Southbound – a pause

After making good time coming down the Bay to Ingram Bay south of the Potomac, we needed to make a stop to assess a battery charging issue in Deltaville. The run from Ingram Bay to Deltaville, that was supposed to be a quick 22nm, became a hard slog directly into a 15-20kt wind and 3-4ft seas. We arrived and dropped anchor in Jackson Creek after re-fueling and off-loading crew’s gear, then made a visit to the Boatyard office to arrange for a service tech to look at the problem. Next morning, now Friday, when I was planning to sail to Hampton, I moved the boat to the Boatyard dock and met with the service  tech – outcome is a new alternator, so I’m here maybe till early next week to complete that work.

To make lemonade out of lemons – got a hot shower, did my laundry, and am typing this in a very comfortable boater’s lounge – all for the small sum of $11. Ursula, who crewed from Annapolis, has her boat here for repairs, and provides shore-side support -THANKS!

The sun is shining, Valinor is safely docked and all’s good. The nice thing about this adventure is the almost total lack of schedule.

All in all not a bad outcome 🙂

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Southbound – leaving

Four days of working at the Annapolis Sailboat Show for Passport Yachts was fun. Met some friends, put a little money in the travel kitty, and got to spend quality time on beautiful boats!

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Now begins the adventure – leaving the comfortable and familiar behind, and heading into places less known (or not at all) and events unpredictable. With it comes unease, apprehension and the excitement of new challenges. It’s the latter that drives us forward and feeds the soul.  So it is with this particular adventure, so long in the planning and so suddenly here. Off we go with a smile and offerings to whatever deities that might be listening for safe travels.

Valinor is ready to go, and I think I am as well…….. All the gear, extra fuel and water on board. Engine servicing is done, and dock box is empty.

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Weather forecast for the run down Bay to Hampton, with a stop to visit friends in Deltaville, looks good. It only remains to say some ‘goodbyes’ and retrieve dock lines. Leaving the slip I’ve called home for about 8 years is a bit sad, especially with such good neighbors. But hope to find a nearby spot when I return in the Spring.

Stay tuned for occasional reports from along the way.

Chasing Summer – II

Going south – Just two words describing a simple action, nothing magical.

Sitting here on the boat, a light steady rain falls on the canvass following a couple impressive storms. A few remnant flashes of lightning signaled the end. I have time to consider – reconsider.

I’ve thought and planned to take Valinor south for the winter for at least two years.  It was at the outset, the challenge – a stretch for me as a sailor. I’ve circled the DelMarVa twice, once in each direction, and explored much of the Chesapeake, both with friends and solo. Going around the world is a stretch too far this late in my life, but “going south”? That’s just a small technical challenge, nothing magical, just timing all the bridge openings and staying off the shoals – and burning a lot of diesel.

Then I mentioned it to a slip neighbor. “Wow, you’ll love it!” followed by stories of his previous trips, and good advice from his experiences.  This is the common, consistent response from every one I’ve talked to who has made the trip. “How far are you going?”  Key West and the Abacos. “Wow, I never made it to Key West, we always headed for the Bahamas from Miami”  Plan to go see the Dry Tortugas too. “Man, wish I could go with you.”  And the conversation repeats in various iterations with others who have made the trip. So maybe there is something magical after all.

As an avian biologist, I understand the drive that moves flocks of birds south every Fall. But what is it that drives sailors to undertake what is largely a motoring process? Certainly there’s good reason to move a boat, and its occupants, into warmer waters as winter approaches. But it seems to be something more than simple biology or thermodynamics. Once the decision is made and shared with others, it becomes clear that there is a community of like-minded sailors. They share a love of the water and adventure. They welcome newcomers into the inner circle, and reach out to share their experiences. There is a sense of family in this group of snow birds.

So it is that this year Valinor will retrieve her dock lines, point her bow south and join this group on the annual cruise. The trip will be made more easily and safely because of all the good counsel and guidance offered freely from those who have gone before. I have no doubt I’ll make new friends, accumulate experiences along the way and have good stories to share on return.

In reconsidering, Yes, I believe there is something magical about ‘going south’, and I hope to experience that magic and be able to share it with others who have yet to make the trip.